Foundation partners with YMCA to provide meals to help end holiday food gap

One in eight kids across Minnesota struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America. The two-week holiday break can cause a strain on families dependent on school programs.

It’s estimated over holidays and weekends, kids across the Twin Cities miss about seven million meals each year, according to The Sheridan Story founder Rob Williams. His new program, Be Nourished, aims to provide more than 28,000 meals between now and when kids go back to school. 

Williams already works with 200 schools, supplying more than 2,400 meals to help kids and their families get through the weekend. Now he is partnering with the YMCA and the John W. Mooty Foundation to offer bags complete with a creamy chicken and green bean pasta meal ready to be cooked and serve four - available to anyone who's hungry over holiday break.

“Holidays - it’s a two-week span and if you tack on the weekends, that's a long time,” said Williams. “If a family is in a financially situation where they can’t buy a lot of food, that's a big gap.”

The John W. Mooty Foundation supplied the funding for 5,000 meal kits, but after a soft roll out to families using daycare YMCA services before Christmas and a trial run the day after, it became clear the need is strong. Bruce Mooty increased the funding to 7,500 bags. 

“Our hope is that others join in on this and see it as a worthwhile cause and join the YMCA and The Sheridan Story in this effort, so everyone has plenty of food to eat during a time when many of us probably have more food then we should be eating,” said Mooty. 

For Allie Lemke, the help couldn't come at a better time. She’s pregnant and due at the end of the month. 

“The end of the month is always hard,” said Lemke. “It’s always hard getting through especially with the holidays and my family they are not here anymore. Kind of celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving my own traditional way.”

In many ways the Be Nourished program is a perfect recipe in line with the Y's goals of meeting community need, while also keeping people nourished and healthy. 

“The beauty is if you need something, please take it,” said Williams. “It’s here, take it - no questions asked.”

You don't have to be a member of the Y to receive the meal bags. The bags are available at all 27 Twin Cities and Rochester locations through Sunday, January 6.